Photo's 2007 / 2015 >
John & Karen Ross
John & Karen Ross
My wife, Karen, and I love older 60’s cars and once owned a 1966 Thunderbird Convertible. We had been looking for a convertible to purchase when we found a 1969 Ford XL GT 429 convertible on eBay.
We live in Indiana and the car was actually located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In November, 2008, we were about to leave on a Disney Cruise to celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary and decided to travel to Key West, Cozumel and the Cayman Islands. Before leaving, we wanted to make a bid on the 69 XL with the thought that if we won, we would be in Florida on the cruise and buy the car after the cruise.
I entered my bid that we thought was reasonable for the XL but the bid did not meet the reserve set for the car and we left for our cruise knowing that we did not purchase the car. On the third day of the cruise, we stopped at an internet café onboard the ship and I decided to check to see how much the XL sold for on eBay. Much to our surprise, the seller had lowered his reserve and we had won the XL. We called the seller, explained our situation of being on a cruise and that we could not pick up the XL until our trip was completed. Luckily, we had driven our 2005 Chevrolet Dually Diesel truck to Florida. Upon arrival back to Port Canaveral, we rented a car towing trailer and headed for Fort Lauderdale to pick up our purchase.
When we arrived at Fort Lauderdale, we realized that we only had personal checks with us to make the purchase and did not have any way to get cash for a cashier’s check to make the purchase. We met the seller and discussed our lack of cash and he agreed to accept our personal check for the purchase. Both Karen and I are in the Credit and Collections field of work and we were shocked that he took a personal check for the XL knowing that we were from out of State and never having met or heard of us before. We loaded up the XL and headed back to Indiana.
One of our best friends, Stu Akers, is an expert auto mechanic in the restoration of old Fords. Stu had completed the restoration of our 1966 Thunderbird convertible several years before and had done an excellent job for us. We took the XL to him immediately upon our arrival back to Indiana.
The car had more rust than we had anticipated and not only needed a lot of body work but also engine and transmission work as well. We were at a crossroads on whether to do a total restoration or just keep the car, fix it up cosmetically and drive it around for our own pleasure. Several people that we knew suggested that we contact Ford Motor Company for their production totals and also order a Marti Report to get all of the information available on the XL.
A couple of weeks later, we got the surprise or I should say the surprises of our lives. My wife and I were married on November 12th – our XL was actually built on November 12th. The original build date that Ford was scheduled for this car was October 18th which was the birth date of Karen’s Aunt Shirley. The last six digits of the serial number on the XL are 121626 -- Taking the 121 as January 21st that is Karen’s parent’s anniversary. Taking the 626 as June 26th, that is Karen’s Grandparent’s anniversary.
The production totals show that only 412 XL GT Convertibles were made in 1969. Not only is that a low number but the Marti report shows that only 101 XL GT Convertibles were made in Gulfstream Aqua paint code with a Black and Parchment interior. With all of these circumstances and coincidences we felt it was a sign that we were meant to have this car and decided to do a complete total frame off restoration of our XL.
At Stu’s suggestion, we contacted Stoinoff Restorations in Batesville, Indiana and they took the car for the frame off body restoration. They took the body off of the frame and sandblasted the frame and body, replaced any rusted panels with metal – no body fillers were used in the restoration of the car. The car was taken apart piece by piece and sanded and painted with four coats of Gulfstream Aqua paint and clear coat over the paint. When they completed the body work and painting, the XL went back to Stu for total restoration of the engine, transmission and all mechanical parts. The engine and transmission were totally taken apart and any worn part was replaced and reassembled. As we restored the car, Stu took extreme measures to be sure that all parts were Ford, or Autolite parts. Factory markings on engine parts were reproduced and stamped on the engine as well as the reproduction stickers were placed in the appropriate parts on the car.
A stainless steel exhaust system and Convertible top installation were done next. We also found an actual back glass made by Dow Corning which was used for a short time in November and December 1969. Beginning in January, 1969, Ford changed from the Dow Corning glass to PPG. Since our car was built in November, 1968, we had difficulty in finding the Dow Corning glass. With the expert help of Electron Top, they heat sealed the glass into the new convertible top and we had Maxwell Auto Trim in Anderson, Indiana complete the top installation along with the well and boot for the convertible top.
After almost three years and a lot of work and money later, we finally took our beautiful restored XL to the Hoosier Auto Show in Indianapolis. We were very excited to win First Place with a score of 98 out of 100. Oh, one last coincidence that happened to us – Stu called us and said that he was done with the restoration and wanted to bring the XL back to us. He trailered the car to our house on November 9, 2011 – The purchase date for the XL – November 9, 2008 --- Three years to the day for the total restoration.